As far as Hollywood icons go, it’s hard to think of someone more recognizable than Marilyn Monroe. Perhaps the most famous blonde bombshell to ever grace the silver screen, Marilyn continues to play an outsized role in pop culture, even more than fifty years after her untimely death.
While Marilyn is arguably best-known as a sex symbol, her wise words on American culture through her words — particularly several quotes on life, love, and beauty — resonate today, on her 97th birthday, as much as they did in the 1950’s. Read on for insights to this enigmatic movie star, including six of her most famous quotes about love, life, and beauty.
Who Was Marilyn Monroe?
Marilyn Monroe was born Norma Jeane Mortenson in June 1926. She had a tough childhood. The future star was raised by a series of foster parents and even spent time in an orphanage before she was scouted as a model. She was married and divorced three times, including her infamous and short-lived marriage to baseball player Joe DiMaggio. It was around the time of her marriage to DiMaggio that Marilyn’s fame began to eclipse her sense of self. After starring in films including Gentlemen Prefer Blondes, There’s No Business Like Show Business, and The Seven Year Itch, Marilyn grew discontented and reclusive, and she began relying on substances like sleeping pills more and more.
Tragically, Marilyn died of a sleeping pill overdose when she was just 36. Since then, she’s consumed the imagination of millions of people the world over, taking center stage in debates about her rumored affair with President John F. Kennedy, her relationship with playwright Arthur Miller, the nature of her death, and even her true personality. Just how blurred was the line between Norma Jeane and Marilyn Monroe? Who was the infamous starlet, really?
While we may never get definitive answers to these questions, it’s clear that Marilyn was not the “dumb blonde” she is often portrayed as. Insights to her core self can be found in many places, most notably the words that she spoke. Here are a few quotes from Marilyn that have inspired and delighted many.
Best Quotes From Marilyn Monroe
“Sometimes things fall apart so that better things can fall together.”
This quote is for the tough times. No matter how good or hardworking you are; no matter if you’re a silly or smart girl; things go wrong, and it’s only much later that the reason becomes apparent. It’s just like Marilyn said: Things have to fall apart before we can see they were broken — and we can put them back together properly. That’s why you don’t stop when life gets out of control. Instead, you persist, knowing that there is a plan and a season for all things.
Given the many challenges Marilyn experienced in her personal life, this inspirational quote feels particularly poignant. It’s well-known that Marilyn struggled with substance use, anxiety, and depression throughout her life, as well as other conditions like insomnia and even stuttering. These conditions ultimately contributed to her overdose and death at the age of 36. It’s clear that — despite her acclaim as bombshell and 1950’s film star — Marilyn faced the same struggles as others.
“Imperfection is beauty.”
This is a snippet from a larger quote — but it is, without question, the most impactful part of that quote. Marilyn said this decades ago, but in the age of Facebook and Instagram, it’s never been more relevant. Anyone can contort themselves to suit conventional beauty standards, but only one person can look like you. It’s our individuality and imperfections that make us unique, interesting, and beautiful. Being able to look in the mirror and say, “I am good and I am beautiful,” is one of the most empowering experiences a woman can have.
This quote calls to mind the Japanese art of kintsugi, wherein shattered clay pots are melded back together by molten gold. The cracks in the pot are thus immortalized in shining metallic, making the place where the pots were broken, where they are flawed, the most beautiful part of the pot. Just like Marilyn said: Imperfection is a part of nature. It’s our flaws and imperfections that make us fully human and fully beautiful. You’re not an angel, and you don’t have to be.
“Fear is stupid. So are regrets.”
This, too, is part of a larger quote about aging, in which Marilyn encourages us to live without fear and regret before we get too old to live at all. It’s simple – and a bit harsh – but its truth is its power. Fear and regrets hold us back and waste time. This quote reminds us to live fully. If someone like Marilyn Monroe, who arguably saw the full spectrum of what it means to be a human being – fame, glamor, addiction, depression, misery, and wealth – believed that living with regret was a waste of time, then so must we.
“Life is a beautiful thing, and there’s so much to smile about.”
Sometimes, it’s easy to get caught up in life’s minutiae: Is the check engine light on in the car? Has the ground frozen before planting my tulips? Will this year’s taxes be astronomical? And on and on and on. While all of these things are important, stressing about them is a zero sum game. Kids, grandkids, friends, home, a rewarding career: These matter. When we take a step back and think about Marilyn’s words, we’re reminded that life really is a beautiful thing, despite life’s daily stresses and worries.
“A smile is the best makeup a girl can wear.”
According to Marilyn, not only is it important to keep smiling through tough times, but it’s actually the quality that makes us most beautiful. This is an inspiring message to little girls and adults alike. It sounded cheesy the first time you read it, but when you think about it, this trending quote is actually timeless. Joy is attractive — and contagious. And we are at our most radiant when we smile.
This quote has deeper implications, too. Consider the difference between a fake smile and a real one. It’s not easy to tell when someone is smiling merely as a courtesy, and when they are, they’re not being their full, authentic selves. Marilyn’s words remind us that our authentic selves — the inner child that’s curious, kind, and playful — is our best self. Sometimes, that means not smiling. Being your genuine self without worrying what others think is the real magic makeup.
“A friend tells you what you want to hear; a best friend tells you the truth.”
You were a wise girl, Ms. Monroe. For a casual chat, we turn to casual friends. For real advice? You turn to your best friend, even when her words might not be what you want to hear. Honesty is hallmark of intimate relationships, whether a best friend or a real lover. Marilyn Monroe might have been isolated by her fame, but she knew the value of a close friendship. Over sixty years later, her words still ring true.
Despite the fame and wealth that gave Marilyn access to the nicest things this world has to offer, she did not have an easy life. She was a powerful woman in a man’s world — it was the 1950’s, after all — which makes these life, beauty, and love quotes all the more inspirational. They may be mere words, but they have the power to transform.
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